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USNS Sealift Atlantic (T-AO 172).
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Class: SEALIFT PACIFIC (T-AO 168)
Displacement (tons): 6,786 light, 34,000 full
Dimensions (feet): 587' oa, 567' wl x 84' e/wl x 35' max nav/limit
Accommodations: 25 civilian, 2 cadets
Speed (kts.): 16
Propulsion (HP): 14,000
Machinery: 2 geared diesels, 1 screw
|168||SEALIFT PACIFIC||20 Jun 1972||Todd, San Pedro||29 Nov 1972||13 Oct 1973||14 Aug 1974|
|169||SEALIFT ARABIAN SEA||20 Jun 1972||Todd, San Pedro||5 Mar 1973||26 Jan 1974||6 Feb 1975|
|170||SEALIFT CHINA SEA||20 Jun 1972||Todd, San Pedro||15 Oct 1973||20 Apr 1974||19 May 1975|
|171||SEALIFT INDIAN OCEAN||20 Jun 1972||Todd, San Pedro||30 Jan 1974||27 Jul 1974||29 Aug 1975|
|172||SEALIFT ATLANTIC||20 Jun 1972||Bath Iron Works||23 Apr 1973||26 Jan 1974||26 Aug 1974|
|173||SEALIFT MEDITERRANEAN||20 Jun 1972||Bath Iron Works||9 Mar 1973||9 Mar 1974||6 Nov 1974|
|174||SEALIFT CARIBBEAN||20 Jun 1972||Bath Iron Works||23 Jul 1973||8 Jun 1974||10 Feb 1975|
|175||SEALIFT ARCTIC||20 Jun 1972||Bath Iron Works||6 Feb 1974||31 Aug 1974||22 May 1975|
|176||SEALIFT ANTARCTIC||20 Jun 1972||Bath Iron Works||29 Apr 1974||26 Oct 1974||1 Aug 1975|
|168||SEALIFT PACIFIC||T||1994||None?||1994||RTO||15 Feb 1995|
|169||SEALIFT ARABIAN SEA||T||1995||None?||1995||RTO||2 Mar 1995|
|170||SEALIFT CHINA SEA||T||1995||None?||1995||RTO||18 Apr 1995|
|171||SEALIFT INDIAN OCEAN||T||1995||None?||1995||RTO||2 May 1995|
|172||SEALIFT ATLANTIC||T||1994||None?||1994||RTO||4 Apr 1995|
|173||SEALIFT MEDITERRANEAN||T||1994||None?||1994||RTO||18 Apr 1995|
|174||SEALIFT CARIBBEAN||T||1995||None?||1995||RTO||4 Apr 1995|
|175||SEALIFT ARCTIC||T||1995||None?||1995||RTO||4 Apr 1995|
|176||SEALIFT ANTARCTIC||T||1995||None?||1995||RTO||4 Apr 1995|
The FY 1968 program as of February 1966 included a new construction T-AO. The Department of Defense felt that it needed 9 new ships to replace the remaining World War II T2 tankers then being used by MSC. The replacements were to be built in the usual way to Navy designs and under Navy budgets, and a design was developed for a FY 1968 T-AO whose characteristics included a 36,100 ton displacement, 675'oa length, 94' beam, 32' full load draft, steam turbine propulsion, 20 knot speed, 32,000 SHP, twin screws, and a modern configuration with a single deckhouse aft. However a surge in Vietnam War expenditures caused funding in FY 1968 and 1969 for Navy shipbuilding to evaporate and the tankers were dropped before the submission of the FY 1968 budget.
MSTS in conjunction with MARAD then turned to a build-and-charter program under which operating contracts would be assigned to companies for a set period, usually five years, making it possible for them to build ships in expensive US shipyards knowing they had assured income. (The ships thus had no Navy design numbers or FY assignments.) A 1968 DoD study called for 25,000-ton (deadweight) tankers and, although commercial interests considered this size too small for commercial use, a conditional award was made to Central Gulf Lines for the construction in the following year of nine such tankers to be bareboat chartered to MSTS for an initial period of five years with options to extend to 20 years. The operator could not complete the needed financial arrangements, however, and the award was terminated in early 1969. The project was revived and on June 21, 1972 an agreement was made with Marine Transport Lines, Inc., Citicorp Leasing, Inc., and Salmon Brothers to construct nine tankers at two yards, the ships again to be leased for five years with options for a total of twenty years. The ships were ordered by the Marine Ship Leasing Corp. under this program, delivered to the Irving Trust Co. as owner, and chartered by them to MSC on the dates shown under Svc, above. Built with medium-speed diesels and capable of carrying 25,000 deadweight tons of fuel at 16 knots, the ships only required a crew of 26 and could handle four different products. They were sometimes called "Handy Size Tankers (HST)".
By 1975 the nine SEALIFTs had replaced the T-2s in the MSC nucleus fleet. In 1978 the navy created the new classification symbol AOT, "Transport Oiler," for the MSC tankers that carried oil from point to point rather than delivering it to fleet units, and on 14 Sep 1978 effective 30 Sep 1978 CNO reclassified AO 168-176 to AOT 168-176. According to Professor Mercogliano (source citation below), the ships encountered problems with their final contract operator. In April 1990, the International Marine Carriers, Inc. (IMC) assumed the fourth five-year option of the 9 Sealift-class tankers from Marine Transport Lines. According to a later Government Accounting Office report, MSC failed to oversee the maintenance of the ships and to ensure that qualified and fully staffed crews were available. In addition the fixed-price contract used to save money backfired because the need to ensure funds were available to correct unexpected casualties prevented expenditures on routine maintenance. When these ships completed their contracts in 1994 and 1995 they did so under a stigma of mismanagement if not worse.
Inactivation (end of charter) and RTO (return to owner) years are estimated above on the basis that they probably came around 20 years from delivery, there having been four five-year options in the charters. All of the ships came under the Panamanian flag when sold in 1995. Sale dates are shown above under MA Sale above although the sales were by the owner, not the MA.
|168||SEALIFT PACIFIC||To RDF (rapid deployment force) 12 Aug 1980. Merc. PATTY ANN 1995. BU Alang 29 Jun 2003, work began 4 Jul 2003.|
|169||SEALIFT ARABIAN SEA||Merc. SAPHIL 1995. BU Alang 23 Feb 2000.|
|170||SEALIFT CHINA SEA||Merc. SANTA AMBROGIO 1995. BU Alang 9 Mar 2000.|
|171||SEALIFT INDIAN OCEAN||Merc. SANTA ANNA 1995. BU Alang 2 Jun 2000.|
|172||SEALIFT ATLANTIC||Merc. MAVRA 1995. BU Alang 5 Jul 2000.|
|173||SEALIFT MEDITERRANEAN||Delivered by builder 7 Nov 1974. Merc. SAN MARCO 1995. BU Alang 28 Dec 1999.|
|174||SEALIFT CARIBBEAN||Merc. SANTA CHIARA 1995, LOBITOS 1997. BU 21 Sep 2011.|
|175||SEALIFT ARCTIC||Merc. VANDOU 1995. BU Alang 6 Jun 2000.|
|176||SEALIFT ANTARCTIC||Merc. RENATA II 1995. BU India Jul 2000.|
Compiled: 18 Sep 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: Thomas Wildenberg, Gray Steel and Black Oil (Annapolis, 1996), Salvatore R. Mercogliano, "Tankers: Fuel for Thought (Military Sea Transportation Service Tankers)," at www.usmm.org/msts/tankers.html